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Variety Talk Series
Samantha Bee, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
For the second year in a row, Full Frontal host Samantha Bee has been nominated for Outstanding Writing For a Variety Series—and for the first time, Bee’s late-night talk show has wound up in competition for Outstanding Variety Talk Series.
Not afraid to broadcast her disdain for our current President and his administration, the comedian took a moment to reflect on the present moment, with the bombshell revelation stemming from Donald Trump Jr.’s emails. “We’ve been enjoying watching things unfold. It’s been perfectly delightful,” Bee laughs. “It’s almost the equivalent of a summertime cocktail.”
It’s not all fun and games, though. “The icecaps are breaking apart. We maintain a very, very profound level of concern over the direction our country is headed in,” she says. “If it takes Donald Trump Jr. making a complete and utter fool of himself to be the sparkling wine in our day, so be it.”
Shawn Levy, EP, Stranger Things
“We joke that when we set out to make an ’80s-set mystery with inter-dimensional monsters, it’s not like you’re making awards bait,” said Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy, in response to the show’s whopping 18 Emmy nominations including one for Outstanding Drama series. “We made a show that we thought would be cool. The degree of critical and fan embrace has been the greatest surprise ever.”
Speaking on making a genre series that is “the most unlikely Emmy-nominated show,” Levy gave props to the TV Academy for opening doors for diverse storytelling. “In the same way that the hierarchy of film and television has been obliterated, the food chain and delineation of genre is evaporated as well. The snobbery in favor or certain genres and against other, those lines are blurring in fantastic ways. There is this great tonal amalgam that you’re seeing more in television.” He continued, “You look at the Emmy nominations in 2017 and it is the more impressive statement about where television culture has evolved to” and the range of storytelling is “incredibly encouraging.”
Since it’s premiere in 2016, Stranger Things has garnered a considerable positive response, which Levy opined was the show’s ability “to tap into an innocence at a time for which there is real cultural nostalgia.” He added, more importantly, the Duffers [Brothers] are completely sincere about these characters and it’s a world of characters we can root for un-ironically. Its an ensemble of outcasts and the show champions them and that has been a big part.”
Robert Carlock, Creator/EP, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt picked up 5 Emmy noms this morning, including its third consecutive nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. While production on season 4 had to be “pushed back a little” due to scheduling issues on both sides of the cameras,” creator/EP Robert Carlock assured “some delightful season four in the coming months.”
On what to expect in the new season, Carlock offered, “we wanted to leave everybody at the end of season 3 with their lives fundamentally changed in some sort of way. Where we left them, with new jobs and new personal goals… season 4 we’ll be seeing where all that takes all of them, particularly Kimmy’s continued effort to become a fully realized person. Her having a job that isn’t in the gig economy will be a new thing for her certainly.”
When asked about the universal message of the show, Carlock remarked, “when [Tina Fey and I] created the show, we talked about” starting “from this very dark place because our hope was to make a show that was connected for a very simple reason, which is everybody had baggage.” He said, “from the beginning it was a question of saying ‘how does her experience shine a light on other [characters] experiences. She’s just dealing with not knowing exactly how the world works. Having some bad stuff in her past and wanted to move forward and be the best version of herself, it’s so universal, I hope, especially in our benighted times.”
Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Foy, The Crown
Hot on the heels of her Golden Globe win for The Crown, Claire Foy has received her first Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. Speaking to the challenges of the role, Foy explained the care that went into responsibly portraying an individual of such historical significance.
“There were loads of pitfalls you could fall into. You never want to make it a kind of caricature of someone,” Foy says. “We had to be vigilant and on top of that. That was a bit of a task, really.”
Having completed production on Season 2—in which she’ll take on a slightly older Queen—Foy discussed the rather unusual situation of being replaced by an older actress for Season 3’s continuation of the story. “I don’t think it’s really been done before, has it?” Foy reflects. ” I can’t wait to watch it as an audience member. I’m really proud of it.”
Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Brian Tyree Henry, This Is Us
“What’s happening is that the world has spoken. There are so many stories to be told, so many lives to be lived, you can’t just focus on one frame,” said Brian Tyree Henry, first-time Emmy nominee for his guest-starring role on NBC’s This Is Us, on the growing diverse slate of television.
“We have to get the entire scope of the world we live in. I feel like networks are wise to that. Not only that, the caliber of actors and creators that are coming out right now are hungry and are really ready to go and tell the stories that need to be told. I’m beyond honored to be apart of that diaspora at the moment because we haven’t even scratched the surface of the stories that are going to be told. We haven’t even scratched the surface in this country of where we’re going yet.”
Tyree also stars in the FX comedy Atlanta, which also nabbed a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series.
“There’s still work to be done and we’re going to do that. That’s our truth. We can only speak our truth and live in it and walk in it. I feel like the academy is recognizing that as well as everyone else who is a fan of television.
Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Along with the likes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Ellie Kemper, Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross seems to be joining the ranks of the perennial Emmy nominees, receiving her second nod in two years for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
In Season 3, Ross took on a notable physical challenge—the pregnant belly. “It was definitely harder than I expected, and I couldn’t actually put it on by myself. I had to have somebody help me get dressed everyday, which was bizarre, ” Ross says, laughing. “I’m a very self-sufficient person, so that felt very weird. It also was very heavy, and it took a little bit of a pull on my body.”
“My favorite thing about this season—and also about how they portrayed me as a pregnant woman—was that like most women that I know that are pregnant in this day and age, their lives continue, and their life does not become about being pregnant,” she adds. “They’re just a person who is pregnant, living their lives.”
Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Stepping up alongside Alec Baldwin, Louie Anderson has earned his second consecutive nomination for Baskets, joined this year by star Zach Galifianakis, a new level of validation for the unusual dramatic comedy by the Television Academy.
“I think what happened is we’re in transition with television. It’s in full transition. All the lines are blurring, and all the work that’s out there is just mind-boggling. If there isn’t a Golden, this is a Platinum time of television. This is a time in television that nobody—nobody—saw coming,” Anderson says. “The amount of work out there, and the amount of great talent involved in it, and the no-holds-barred and no -boundaries set up…No limitations are being put on what can be created, and I feel like we’re in the stratosphere in creating television. I feel lucky enough to be part of the payload that was shot into space with Baskets.”
“This is bigger than me, bigger than anything,” he continues. “This is a huge opportunity for me to participate in an experiment that is going right.”
Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
“It might sound trivial but there was a woman who came up to me and told me that I gave her the courage to wear a skirt for the first time in her life. If you’ve never been overweight or struggled physically, it’s hard to really understand what that means because we’re so focused on what other people think about us. It’s very moving. I’ve met people of all ages who were overweight and express to me how they relate to the character or that they feel inadequate in some way. We all feel that. We’re way too much of something and not enough of something else. The show is about how we’re all the same and trying to figure out this life thing. I’ve literally cried with strangers in the bathroom. I’m not exaggerating,” says Metz on how her This Is Us character Kate Pearson moves people.
Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Kathryn Hahn, Transparent
First teaming with Jill Soloway on 2013 indie Afternoon Delight, Kathryn Hahn found an ideal creative partner in the director, following her to two acclaimed Amazon series, Transparent and this year’s I Love Dick.
After years of hard work, it was her portrayal of Rabbi Raquel Fein in the former series that put her over the top, resulting in her first Emmy nomination, alongside several of her co-stars who make the set feel like home.
“This morning is such a recognition of our journey together. I’ve been in [Solloway’s] rep company for a long time, and I love the work that we are making so much, and I’m so proud of the work that we’re doing together,” Hahn says. “It is, for me, such a symbol of our crazy, beautiful, long journey together. I’m forever eternally grateful that we did that little movie together in Silver Lake, and I can’t believe it’s led to this.”
Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
John Lithgow, The Crown
Five-time Emmy winner and perennial Emmys favorite John Lithgow has received his 12th nomination for his physically transformative turn as Winston Churchill in Netflix original series The Crown.
Not one to overstate his accomplishments, Lithgow downplayed the work that went into crafting his Churchill, inhabiting a figure of great historical significance. “It was surprisingly easy to do. I felt the weight of it the minute I was offered it, but as soon as I started collaborating with my confederates—mainly, I’m talking about Peter Morgan and Stephen Daldry—I just felt tremendous confidence,” Lithgow says. “It’s a big challenge even thinking about being the one American in a huge cast of great English actors, playing an English icon like Churchill, who is possibly the best-known figure of the 20th century in England.”
“I was so surprised they even offered it to me, but they offered it to me with such confidence and assurance that it was a smart choice,” he continues. “All together, we just cooked up this very unusual and surprising characterization that didn’t even try to duplicate Churchill. It just sort of got at his essence.”
Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
John Turturro, The Night Of
“A lot of times I meet people on the street or the subway who really had a deep encounter with the show and you can see it on their face. I just think it’s interesting when you do something that has a certain amount of complexities and nuances and there’s no clear good guy or bad guy. There’s still a big appetite for that. Steven Zaillian and Richad Price really mined the original material and were really inspired by a documentary approach, The Staircase being one of them. It’s nice that people are responding to the series, because it’s not a big-star studded cast. It deals with the mixed racial variety that makes up any big city and in many ways it’s very timely; it’s about the truth how grey that area is,” said Turturro on the resonance of the HBO limited series about a young Pakistani-American student who is accused of murdering his one night stand after blacking out. The Night Of is Turturro’s second Emmy nomination following 2004 winning guest comedy turn in Monk.
Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Carrie Coon, Fargo
While recently saying goodbye to HBO series The Leftovers, Carrie Coon has landed her first Emmy nom with her entry into the Fargo world, and the legacy of great female detectives set up in the original Coen brothers’ film.
In Coon’s case, that precedent was a major part of the challenge in inhabiting Eden Valley Chief of Police Gloria Burgle. “You have the precedent of Allison Tolman, Kirsten Dunst, “She Who Will Not Be Named,” who you never want to be compared to—Frances McDormand—so you’re carrying the weight of that trope with you,” Coon says. “But of course you also have the great confidence of knowing that Noah Hawley won’t leave you hanging out to dry, that there’s a reason why that character is reappearing, and that he’s made it distinctive enough to warrant another examination.”
“That was the biggest challenge,” the actress continues. “I’m from the Midwest. The cold doesn’t scare me.”
Supporting Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie
Jackie Hoffman, Feud: Bette And Joan
A tremendously versatile character actress working solidly for decades—with notable recent turns in Birdman, Difficult People and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life—Jackie Hoffman received her first ever Emmy nomination while on Broadway in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The role is Mamacita, Joan Crawford’s maternal, brusquely German assistant and confidante in Feud: Bette and Joan, a series which garnered four nominations for strong female performances in Lead and Supporting categories.
Boasting a strong onscreen rapport with Jessica Lange and her other co-stars, Hoffman’s favorite episode was easy to pin down. “Because I’m a self-promoting whore, my favorite episode is Episode 4, because in Episode 4, like my aunt said, ‘At least they gave you a chance to speak!’” Hoffman says. “So that’s my favorite, and also because it had such a unique voice, and it was Ryan [Murphy]’s politics, which I’m totally in favor of, coming through. We’re so involved with diversity with people of color, but there’s women, too.”
“This is just great,” she continues, “and what a year it is for female actresses, too. So much power, so much power. It’s Jessica’s power that made it so much easier for me to do this role.”
Variety Sketch Series
Billy Eichner, Billy on the Street
Turner’s truTV comedy network registered its first ever Emmy nomination for Billy on the Street, the comedy game show from Difficult People’s Billy Eichner, who hosts, and executive produces the project he describes as “the hardest thing I’ll ever do.”
Singling out recent episodes including “Death Rogen” and “Do Gay People Care About John Oliver?” as favorites, Eichner pointed to his desire to dissect current fascinations of pop culture, making memorable use of high-profile celebrity guests, filtered through his unique and increasingly recognized comedic sensibility.
“I don’t want it to seem like another show. I want people to know the show that they’re watching. You can take it or leave it, but I want it to feel very specific to me and my voice,” Eichner says. “Our goal is always to have the segments work on a number of levels. We want it to be, just superficially speaking, very funny. We want people to laugh a lot; otherwise, it’s pointless. But underneath it, we do want to open peoples’ eyes to a new idea.”